Earth Verse: Using Science in Poetry
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This lesson is a great way to teach both scientific and English content to a class, although the teacher can easily choose another book and subject area. In this lesson, students listen to poems in the book Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. Students then create diamante, acrostic, or theme poems with illustrations. To help increase fluency, students read their poems to the class. Finally, students create original poems using facts they have learned in the current science curriculum.
- Acrostic Poems: This tool helps students brainstorm and organize words that can be used in their own acrostic poems.
- Diamante Poems: This tool provides a template that students can easily fill out to complete an original diamante poem.
- Theme Poems: Students can use this tool to see examples of theme poems and create one of their own.
From Theory to Practice
- Teachers have to find a fun and interactive way to introduce poetry in the classroom.
- Teachers have to engage students in active poetry writing by creating safe, low-risk environments in which to share and experience poetry.
- Teachers should encourage students to engage, explore, develop, and apply new vocabulary through many hands-on activities.
- Word knowledge is incremental, multidimensional, interrelated, and has multiple meanings.
- By exploring new vocabulary through graphic organizers, poetry, and drawings, students increase comprehension in the content areas.
- Multiple exposures to words in different content give students opportunities to build background knowledge.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- One or more copies of Science Verse by Jon Scieszka (Viking, 2004)
- Index cards
- Colored markers or pencils
- Chart paper
- Dictionaries and thesauruses
- Copies of poems parodied in Science Verse (see Preparation, Step 2)
- Computers with Internet access (optional)
|1.||Obtain and familiarize yourself with the book Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. If possible, get extra copies to share with students during Session 1 (one copy for every five students in your class).
|2.||Make one copy each of the following original poems that are parodied in Science Verse, for Session 1, Step 4:
|3.||List the titles of the poems in Science Verse on the front of index cards-one card per poem. On the back of the cards, list some of the science facts identified in them. For example, using the poem, "Water Cycle," list the title on the front of the card and the science vocabulary words or facts from the poem-such as "precipitation," "evaporation," or "H2O"-on the back of the card. You will use these cards in Sessions 1 and 2.
|4.||Familiarize yourself with the Descriptions and Sample Poems handout. Make one copy for each group of five students for Session 3.
|5.||Print one copy for each group of five students of the Checklist for Diamante Poem, Checklist for Acrostic Poem, and Checklist for Theme Poem handouts for Session 3. Depending on how many students are in your classroom, several groups may have the same checklist. Create your own diamante, acrostic, and theme poems for three different science facts to use as a model in Session 3.
|6.||Visit the interactive Acrostic Poems, Diamante Poems, and Theme Poems pages. Bookmark the interactives on your classroom or school lab computers for Session 4.
|7.||Print one copy for each student of the Poem and Participation Rubric. You will fill this out for each student in Session 3.
|8.||Print one copy for each group of five students of the Self-Assessment Checklist. Groups will fill this out in Session 3.
|9.||Refer to your current science lesson for topics to use for students' poems. Suggested topics include animals, biomes, the universe, mass and matter, body systems, and recycling. Gather sources (both print and online) for students to use when writing their poems.|
- Examine rhythm and rhyme by reading published poems
- Explore different types of poetry by creating diamante, acrostic, or theme poems using the book Science Verse
- Increase science vocabulary and comprehension by creating poetry based on the current science curriculum
- Improve fluency through repeated readings of poetry
Session 1 and 2
|1.||Begin by showing students the cover of the book, Science Verse. Ask them what they think the story is about. Read to students the first two pages (beginning with, "On Wednesday..."). Next, ask them, "What do you think ‘a curse of science verse' means?" Record their responses on the board. Explain that the boy in the story is in science class; ask them to listen carefully to what he hears.
|2.||Read the story in its entirety, stopping to show students the pictures associated with each poem.
|3.||When you are finished reading the story, ask students how the boy in the book hears the facts his teacher is sharing. Discuss. Ask if they remember any science facts from the story, recording their answers on the board. If students don't remember any of the facts, go back to the poem, "Food Chain," and read it a second time using the rhyming pattern from the poem, "I've Been Working on the Railroad." In the second stanza, the science vocabulary words are green plants, consumer, producer, predator, and prey. After students recognize the vocabulary words, ask them, "What does a food chain have to do with working on a railroad?" Your goal is to help students realize that all animals work to survive in life, and that this poem is one way to remember the order of survival in the food chain.
|4.||Have students reflect on the original poems upon which the poems in Science Verse are based. This is so they can see how rhythm and rhyme can help them to remember content area facts. Divide students into groups of five and give each group one poem from the list of original poems (see Preparation, Step 2). Give groups about 10 minutes to read the poem and try to match it to the parodied poem in Science Verse.
|5.||Once students have matched the original poem to the parodied one in Science Verse, hand out index cards to each group. Have students create their own index cards by choosing one parodied poem from Science Verse. Direct groups to list the names of their poems on the fronts of their cards and science vocabulary words found in them on the backs. Model the cards you created if necessary (see Preparation, Step 3).
|6.||Bring the groups together and have each group discuss their findings with the class. Sample discussion questions include:
|1.||Explain to students that they will work in groups to write a description and either a diamante, acrostic, or theme poem. You can show the poems you created earlier as models (see Preparation, Step 5). Explain that the poems have to relate to any science fact from class. Students will also draw a colorful illustration that reflects the title of the poem. Brainstorm some poem ideas with students and note the ideas on the board for use when they work in their groups. For example, if you are studying biomes, one group may write about glaciers while another group may write about rainforests.
|2.||Have students get into groups of five and give each group one copy of Descriptions and Sample Poems. Each group should also receive one copy of either the Checklist for Diamante Poem, the Checklist for Acrostic Poem, or the Checklist for Theme Poem to help them complete their poems. Each group will be responsible for one type of poem. Also make available chart paper, markers, dictionaries, thesauruses, and the copies of poems from Science Verse from the previous two sessions.
|3.||Clarify to students that each group has to designate two speakers, a writer, a researcher, and an artist. One speaker will read a description of the type of poem and the other will read the actual poem. First, they have to write the type of poem on the top of the chart paper (diamante, acrostic, shape) and a description of that type of poem. Next, they have to create a title, a poem, and an illustration of the poem on the chart paper. When each group is finished, someone from the group has to hang the chart paper in the front of the room.
|4.||Allow students access to science notes, fiction and nonfiction books, and content-related websites. Give them about 15 to 20 minutes to create their poems. Walk around the room to observe and offer help as necessary. If any group is having trouble getting started, remind them to refer to the brainstormed ideas on the board.
|5.||Have each group take turns explaining their poem to the rest of the class. As each group explains their type of poem and reads it aloud, the other students should make sure that the poem conforms to the checklist. After each group finishes, they should ask students if they have any comments or questions. If there are no comments or questions, ask guiding questions regarding the description of the poem and the science material presented. For example, if the group was writing an acrostic poem about Biomes, you might ask, "Did the group begin each line with a capital letter? Did each line begin with the next letter in the title of the poem-first line "B," second line "I," and so on? Are the science facts correct?"
|6.||When each group is finished, use the Poem and Participation Rubric to assess students' participation in the activity. Groups should fill out the Self-Assessment Checklist during this time to asses their work (one copy per group). Collect the checklists.|
|1.||Have students create their own acrostic, diamante, or theme poems based on a topic from the current science curriculum. Ask students to avoid topics already used in the previous lessons.
|2.||If you have classroom computers with Internet access or a school computer lab, invite students to use the interactive Acrostic Poems, Diamante Poems, and Theme Poems tools to prepare and print their poems. These tools may require some demonstration to show students how to use them.
|3.||Walk around to make sure all students have an understanding of the assignment. If students are having difficulty with the type of poem, review it with them.
|4.||When they are finished writing, have students read their poems to the class and engage in a discussion about the topic of the poem and the facts that were included. If facts are incorrect, help student to either self correct or rephrase.|
- Try this poetry-writing lesson with other content area subjects, like social studies or math topics.
- Create a classroom portfolio using all students' poetry and illustrations. This portfolio can be displayed in the classroom, or copies made for each student to take home.
- Have students create a crossword puzzle using the vocabulary from their poem using the online Crossword Puzzles tool. Visit Creating Puzzles: A Guide for Teachers for more information.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Students complete the Self-Assessment Checklist for the poem and illustration they created in Session 3. Review the checklists to make sure students learned how to create one type of poem using some of the science facts discussed in class. Each student should have completed some part of the group work in Session 3.
- Use the Poem and Participation Rubric to make sure the student understood the three different types of poems and that they shared and respected each other during group work and class presentations.
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